February 2002 - Dinner at Percy's Place
by Monique Y. Wells
Live, from Percy's Place, it's Saturday night!
Percy Taylor, a Norfolk, Virginia native who now makes his home in Paris, is enjoying success as a caterer and a restaurant owner in the gourmet capital of the world. He began by catering from his home kitchen, moved on to establish a restaurant and tea room on a quaint but busy thoroughfare in the posh 16th arrondissement, and then added a bed and breakfast to his enterprise by renovating the space one floor above the restaurant. Business is so good that now the 43-year old chef is looking for space on the Left Bank in which to open a second Percy's Place.
Previously open only for lunch, afternoon tea and Sunday brunch, popular demand convinced Taylor to open his establishment for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights as well. And while Percy's is always infused with a feeling of warmth and comfort that perfectly compliments his southern-inspired cuisine, dinnertime becomes an enchanting endeavor. The dining room is cozy, like the dining area of an eat-in kitchen that you could imagine in your own home, with shelves lined with various cookbooks and various packaged or bottled food items, a butcher's block and utensils hanging from the wall. The lights are low, and people are brought closer together by the family-style arrangement of the tables in what is already an intimate space.
At 9 PM, the sultry tones of jazz combine with the great food and camaraderie to create a magical dining experience. More often than not, a singer regales the crowd with live musical accompaniment. There are a few regulars who perform at Percy's Place, but open mike is typical of the evening entertainment as well. Thus when the featured entertainer has musical friends in the house, things can get pretty interesting. And others who want their shot at the mike are welcome to join in. It's all grounded in a love of music and a sense of sharing that only the breaking of bread together can inspire.
Taylor embodies the spirit of Percy's Place. He makes at least one appearance during the evening as the host, but his customers may just as easily find him serving their meals along with a healthy dose of his infectious charm. When the crowd is warmed up and really feeling the music, they will often coax Percy to perform. Provided that he is not occupied with preparations for a catering job, he is usually happy to comply!
The dinner menu is a tribute to Taylor's southern upbringing. Crawfish salad and chicken wings serve as entrées, while main dishes range from chicken jambalaya and Virginia crab cakes (which Percy adamantly states are better than anything you've ever tasted from Maryland) to pork chops and chicken and ribs. Carrot slaw, fluffy mashed potatoes and lush salads are wonderful accompaniments to these classics.
Additionally, Taylor gives a nod to the northern U.S. with his New Yorker entrée (smoked salmon, cream cheese, English muffin and mixed salad). And he stretches his culinary imagination with specials that can be inspired by Italian, Asian, Indian and other types of cuisine. For if his love for cooking springs from his mother's kitchen in Virginia, his training as a chef comes from places as varied as Hawaii, California, and the Cordon Bleu in Paris.
The wine list at Percy's Place is also a testament to Taylor's larger vision of gastronomy. He proposes wines from France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, and the United States.
Taylor considers himself a purveyor of fusion cuisine. This is particularly evident in his catering, where his talent rises to the challenges of each new job with subtle combinations of influences from many world cuisines. An example of this is the veal piccata that he serves with a sweet potato flan. But because he has been touted by the French press as providing traditional U.S. cooking, he has not yet strayed too far from this concept in his restaurant. Though he does have a good number of Americans dining at Percy's Place, his primary clientele is French.
Desserts from the dinner menu are the same as those served at lunch, brunch and tea time, and are American classics. Carrot muffins, white and dark chocolate brownies, pecan pie, key lime pie, chocolate chip cookies and apple crumble are all lovingly prepared. And Taylor's light, luscious rendition of cheesecake is definitely not to be missed!
Because Taylor opened Percy's Place for dinner due to popular demand, you can well imagine that reservations are necessary to be assured of getting a table. The same is true for lunch. A two-course fixed price dinner (entrée plus main dish or main dish plus dessert) costs 38 euros, and a three-course meal costs 49 euros. Count on an additional 21 euros - 32 euros for a bottle of wine. Taylor will open his restaurant for private parties on evenings other than Friday and Saturday by special arrangement. And for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, he always offers a special dinner menu. Reservations for these dates should be made weeks in advance.
15, rue d'Auteuil
Post script: Percy's Place closed in February 2005.
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One of Entrée to Black Paris' most popular walking tours is called Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden.
Explore the Luxembourg Garden and learn about the histories of such luminaries as Richard Wright, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Séjour, and Henry O. Tanner. Learn about the myth of the black Statue of Liberty, and see the contemporary sculpture that commemorates the abolition of slavery in the French colonies.
The tour, led by a knowledgeable and experienced local guide, involves about 2 hours of walking. Black History in and around the Luxembourg Garden is a regularly-scheduled walking tour.
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Paris Panorama Newsletters for 2002
- December 2002 - Scenes of the Nativity at the Louvre
- November 2002 - The Influence of African Art in the Work of Matisse and Picasso
- October 2002 - An Autumn for the Arts
- September 2002 - Tourist or Traveler?
- August 2002 - Paris-by-the-Beach
- July 2002 - The Passion of Louis IX
- June 2002 - A Day in the Dungeon
- May 2002 - A Film Lover's Paradise
- April 2002 - Dining in Paris with Rebecca L. Spang
- March 2002 - The Chateau of Monte-Cristo
- February 2002 - Dinner at Percy's Place
- January 2002 - Return of the Bad Boy